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In happy homes he saw the light
“Dark lowers the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide !" And loud that clarion voice replied,
Thy weary head upon this breast !"
Beware the awful aralanche !”
Poems on Slavery.
[The following Poems, with one exception, were written at sea, in the latter part of October, 1842. I had not then heard of Dr. Channing's death. Since that event, the poem addressed to him is no longer appropriate. I have decided, however, to let it remain as it was written in testimony of my admiration for a great and good man.)
TO WILLIAM E. CHANNING. The pages of thy book I read,
The feudal curse, whose whips and yokes And as I closed each one,
Insult humanity. My beart, responding, ever said, "Servant of God! well done!”
A voice is ever at thy side,
Speaking in tones of might, Well done! Thy words are great and bold; Like the prophetic voice, that cried At times they seem to me
To John in Patmos, “Write!” Like Luther's, in the days of old,
Write ! and tell out this bloody tale ; Half-battles for the free.
Record this dire eclipse, Go on, until this land revokes
This Day of Wrath, this Endless Wail, The old and chartered Lie,
1 This dread Apocalypse !
THE SLAVE'S DREAM.
BESIDE the ungathered rice he lay,
They held him by the hand ! His sickle in his hand;
A tear burst from the sleeper's lids,
Was buried in the sand.
Along the Niger's bank;
His bridle-reins were golden chains, Wide through the landscape of his! And, with a martial clank, dreams
At each leap he could feel his scabbard The lordly Niger flowed;
of steel Beneath the palm-trees on the plain Smiting his stallion's flank.
Once more a king he strode; And heard the tinkling caravans
Before bim, like a blood-red flag, Descend the mountain-road.
The bright flamingoes flew;
From morn till night he followed their He saw orce more his dark-eyed queen flight, Among her children stand ;
O'er plains where the tamarind grew, They clasped his neck, they kissed his Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts, cheeks,
And the ocean rose to view.
At night be heard the lion roar,
With a voice so wild and free, And the hyæna scream;
That he started in his sleep and And the river-horse as he crushed the smiled reeds
At their tempestuous glee.
Nor the burning heat of day;
A worn-out fetter, that the soul
THE GOOD PART THAT SHALL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY.
Their falling chains shall be.
And following her beloved Lord, Are in the village school.
In decent poverty, Her soul, like the transparent air She makes her life one sweet record That robes the hills above,
And deed of charity. Though not of earth, encircles there
For she was rich and gave up all
To break the iron bands
And laboured in her lands.
Long since beyond the Southern Sea By her angelic looks.
Their outbound sails have sped, She reads to them at eventide
While she, in meek humility, Of One who came to save ;
Now earns her daily bread. To cast the captive's chains aside,
It is their prayers, which never cease, And liberate the slave.
That clothe her with such grace ; And oft the blessed time foretells Their blessing is the light of peace When all men shall be free;
That shines upon her face.
THE SLAVE SINGING AT MIDNIGHT.
Filled my soul with strange emotion; Sang of Israel's victory,
For its tones by turns were glad,
Sweetly solemn, wildly sad.
And an earthquake's arm of might
And what earthquake's arm of might Perished Pharaoh and his host.
Breaks his dungeon-gates at night?
• THE SLAVE IN THE DISMAL SWAMP. Is dark fens of the Dismal Swamp A poor old slave, infirm and lame; The hunted Negro lay;
Great scars deformed his face ; He saw the fire of the midnight camp, On his forehead he bore the brand of And heard at times a horse's tramp,
shame, And a bloodhound's distant bay. | And the rags, that hid his mangled
frame, Where will-o'-the-wisps and glow-worms
Were the livery of disgrace. In bulrush and in brake;
All things above were bright and fair, Where waving mosses shroud the pine, | All things were glad and free; And the cedar grows, and the poisonous Lithe squirrels darted here and there, vine
And wild birds filled the echoing air
With songs of Liberty!
Or a human heart would dare, 1 From the morning of his birth ;.
| And struck him to the earth!
THE QUADROON GIRL. THE Slaver in the broad lagoon Her eyes were large, and full of light, Lay moored with idle sail;
Her arms and neck were bare ; He waited for the rising moon, No garment she wore, save a kirtle bright, And for the evening gale.
And her own long, raven hair. Under the shore his boat was tied,
And on her lips there played a smile And all her listless crew
As holy, meek, and faint, Watched the gray alligator slide As lights in some cathedral aisle Into the still bayou.
The features of a saint. Odours of orange-flowers, and spice,
“The soil is barren,- the farm is old;" Reached them from time to time,
The thoughtful Planter said;
Then looked upon the Slaver's gold,
| And then upon the maid.
His heart within him was at strife The Planter, under his roof of thatch,
With such accursèd gains ; Smoked thoughtfully and slow; For he knew whose passions gave her life. The Slaver's thumb was on the latch,
| Whose blood ran in her veins. He seemed in haste to go.
But the voice of nature was too weak; He said, “My ship at anchor rides He took the glittering gold ! In yonder broad lagoon;
Then pale as death grew the maiden's I only wait the evening tides,
Her hands as icy cold.
He led her by the hand,
In a strange and distant land !
THE WITNESSES. In Ocean's wide domains,
Within Earth's wide domains Half buried in the sands,
Are markets for men's lives; Lie skeletons in chains,
Their necks are galled with chains, With shackled feet and hands. Their wrists are cramped with gyves. Beyond the fall of dews,
Dead bodies, that the kite Deeper than plummet lies,
In deserts makes its prey; Float ships with all their crews, Murders, that with affright No more to sink nor rise.
Scare schoolboys from their play! There the black Slave-ship swims, All evil thoughts and deeds; Freighted with human forms,
Anger, and lust, and pride ; Whose fettered, fleshless limbs The foulest, rankest weeds, Are not the sport of storms.
That choke Life's groaning tide ! These are the bones of Slaves ; These are the woes of Slaves ; They gleam from the abyss ;
They glare from the abyss ; They cry, from yawning waves,
They cry from unknown graves, “We are the Witnesses !”
“We are the Witnesses !"
The lion in his path,—when, poor and blind,
Shorn of his noble strength and forced to grind
Upon the pillars of the temple laid
His desperate hands, and in its overthrow
A cruel mockery of his sightless woe;
There is a poor, blind Samson in this land,
Shorn of his strength, and bound in bonds of steel,
And shake the pillars of this Commonweal,